Fewer high school students are smoking these days

Fewer high school students are smoking these days, according to the latest youth survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, high school cigarette use is at its lowest since the CDC began measuring youth smoking trends in 1991.

Just 22% of high school students smoked in 2003, the CDC reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (Vol. 53, No. 23: 499-502). That compares to 36% who smoked in 1997, and 28.5% who did so in 2001. Fewer than 10% of students reported smoking frequently (smoking on 20 or more days in the previous 30 days) in 2003. By comparison, nearly 17% of students were frequent smokers in 1999.

White students were more likely to smoke than African-American or Hispanic students. White girls had the highest smoking rate -- more than 26%. Older students smoked more than younger ones.

The findings were based on responses to the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a questionnaire administered to students in grades 9-12 across the US.

The researchers attributed the "encouraging" declines to higher cigarette prices and greater efforts on the part of schools and anti-tobacco groups to prevent smoking. Such progress is jeopardized, however, by increased ad spending by the tobacco industry, and less money spent on anti-tobacco programs.

To keep youth smoking levels on the decline, the report said continued funding of anti-tobacco programs would be needed. It called for anti-tobacco media campaigns and fewer depictions of smoking in movies and television. The report also touted efforts to promote smoke-free homes, discourage adults from smoking (to provide more non-smoking role models), and discourage family and friends from giving cigarettes to young people.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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